OIC thanks Green House Design & Communications for kindly allowing us to publish their Fleecircus interview here. This interview first appeared in lol – living out loud, April 2008. Published by Green House Design & Communications. Written by Kisane G. Filmer.
A former LASALLE student Lee Wai Leng aka Fleecircus graduated in 1991 with a Diploma in Visual Communications. She shares her journey as she made the risky move from a full-time designer to self-employed illustrator…
Tell us about your design education. Why did you choose this area of study?
I entered LaSalle originally intending to do Fashion Design or Illustration. But later I found that I was more suited for illustration so I opted for the most relevant course.
How did you decide on LASALLE?
I took all the entrance tests to all the art and design academies, and I passed them all. But I didn’t have to take any such tests for LASALLE who accepted me once they saw my work. So I guess it was an instant decision.
Have you always done design? What’s your career path been like?
After I graduated from art school, I did graphic design for 5 years. And most of the graphic design jobs were at local design houses.
What was your favourite part of studying at LASALLE?
It’s got to be the Figure Drawing class; I owe my interest in drawing and its fine details to one of my LASALLE figure drawing lecturers.
Many believe that one cannot make a living as a full-time artist in Singapore. But as full-time illustrator, you obviously do. So what’s the secret?
I believe it’s never easy starting out on your own regardless of what job you do. I did not start out as a full-fledged illustrator. I did freelance design jobs on the side to support myself after I stopped working full-time. At the same time, I drew and started building my illustration portfolio. It took more than 2 years for me to fully make the transition to a full-time illustrator. Really, there’s no secret - only hard work.
So, in your opinion and based on your experience, does art pay?
If you choose art as your career, it’s unlikely that it will reward you monetary-wise. This is one industry where you can realize your talent. However, how much you get paid deters many from this business.
What do you think are the misconceptions people have of freelancers?
That freelancers have 100% freedom but are always broke? Haha! Freelancers must have good time management skills, and listen to their clients’ needs. Really, the more you work the more you get paid. But then again, freelancers do get to go to movies and shop on weekday afternoons.
What are some of the pitfalls you face as a full-time artist in Singapore?
Honestly, there are not much difficulties being a full-time artist in Singapore; that is, if you don’t always go after the finer, more expensive things in life.
How do you find your clients or do they find you?
Like any other job, networking is very important. You also have to establish a rapport with your client; recommendations always travel fast by word of mouth.
What are you working on now? Can share?
I am doing a 6-month project for the upcoming Peranakan Museum at Armenian Street (next to The Substation). I am basically one of the creative directors and am handling most of the creative language and design.
What are the tools of the trade you use most?
Paper, pencil, tracing paper, eraser, digital camera, scanner and computer.
If you ever find yourself short of creative juices, what do you do for a refill?
Surfing the internet, walking around bookstores and museums do the trick for me.
Imagine yourself in 10, 20 years? What will you be doing then?
I hope, still doing this.
What do you do in your spare time?
I read, and watch a lot of movies.
What’s your favourite time of day?
My iPod and my digital camera.
Ok, how many songs are there now in your iPod?
About 3000 songs, I think. I listen to everything and anything.
What do you do to keep yourself awake when meeting crazy deadlines?
It’s not difficult for me to stay awake; sometimes I find it difficult for me to get to sleep!
Complete this sentence: Living out loud means…
Live your life like every week is your last.